nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Jama (E.D. Va. Oct. 25, 2016) (convictions after bench trial in al Shabab material support case)

October 25, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

Two women were convicted today of terrorism crimes related to their material support of al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Muna Osman Jama, 36, of Reston, and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, of Kent, Washington, were found guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization after a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.

“Providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations is a very serious crime,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “These women funneled money to a terrorist organization which was conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia. National security is the top priority in this office and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who provide material support to terrorists.”

“In addition to money they transferred in direct support of al-Shabaab, these subjects recruited, solicited, and advised an online group located in multiple countries as to how and where to transfer funds to this terrorist organization,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “In coordination of the group, these subjects would then track and facilitate donations to ensure the money was received by their co-conspirators located in Nairobi and Somaliland. Today’s guilty verdicts send a message that facilitation of financial support to a designated terrorist organization equates to terrorist activity itself.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Jama and Dhirane sent money to financiers of al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, which they referred to respectively as the “Hargeisa side” and the “Nairobi side.” The defendants also organized what was called a “Group of Fifteen,” which included women from Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as Minneapolis, Minnesota. The “Group of Fifteen” met regularly in a private chatroom that Jama established to organize and track monthly payment of money to the “Hargeisa side,” which was used to finance al-Shabaab military operations in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, and the “Nairobi side,” which was used to fund two al-Shabaab safehouses. One of the safehouses was used by al-Shabaab to store weapons and to prepare for attacks. The other was used to treat al-Shabaab fighters who had been wounded in battle.

A substantial part of the government’s case consisted of recorded telephone calls and other communications among the “Group of Fifteen.” These recordings demonstrated that the women had close connections with al-Shabaab leadership and were privy to non-public, inside information concerning al-Shabaab activities. Jama and Dhirane were recorded as they laughed as the carnage at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was still taking place. Dhirane and co-conspirator were also recorded as they laughed at the Boston Marathon Bombing before it became known who committed the attack.

Jama and Dhirane each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when sentenced on January 19, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Jay S. Tabb, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, made the announcement after the verdict was announced. Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Gillis and Trial Attorney Danya E. Atiyeh of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle also provided assistance.

This case was investigated bythe FBI’s Washington, D.C. and Seattle Field Offices. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also played an essential role in coordinating the arrests and searches with foreign authorities.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of theDistrict Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-cr-230.

Advertisements

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Van Haften (D. Wis. Oct. 20, 2016) (guilty plea in ISIL material support case)

October 20, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Joshua Van Haften, 34, of Madison, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support and resources, namely himself as personnel, to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord and U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Van Haften admitted that in 2014, he attempted to provide material support to ISIL, knowing that the organization was a designated terrorist organization that has engaged and engages in terrorism.

According to the government’s evidence, Van Haften traveled to Turkey in 2014 and attempted to cross into Syria. He posted online that he had taken an oath of allegiance to the leader of ISIL, and that “The only thing that matters to me is joining my brothers for the war against America [sic] liars.”

Van Haften was arrested at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois in April 2015, after his arrival in custody on an international flight from Turkey. He has been held in federal custody since his arrest.

U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson scheduled sentencing for February 17, 2017 at 1:00pm CDT. Van Haften faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The charge against Van Haften is the result of an investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the members of which include the FBI; Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Dane County Sheriff’s Office; and University of Wisconsin Police Department. Assistance was also provided by DHS.

The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson for the Western District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Lolita Lukose of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Badawi (C.D. Cal. Oct. 19, 2016) (30-year sentence in ISIS material support case)

October 20, 2016

From the press release:

Muhanad Elfatih M.A. Badawi, 25, of Anaheim, California, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for conspiring with another man to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Office. The sentence was issued by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter.

At the conclusion of a trial in June, Badawi was found guilty of conspiring with another man to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as well as aiding and abetting his codefendant’s attempt to provide support to ISIL, and for federal financial aid fraud designed to generate funds for the scheme.

Three weeks ago, Judge Carter sentenced Badawi’s codefendant – Nader Elhuzayel, 25, also of Anaheim, California – to 30 years in prison.

“Defendant Badawi was a radicalizer, recruiter and facilitator, and like codefendant Elhuzauyel, defendant Badawi aspired to die a martyr fighting jihad for ISIL,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

“With this sentence, Muhanad Badawi is being held accountable for conspiring to provide material support to ISIL and other federal offenses,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring to justice those who conspire to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“The lengthy sentence imposed today results from the defendant’s acceptance of ISIL’s murderous ideology and his participation in a scheme designed to betray the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Decker. “Badawi and Elhuzayel wanted to fight for ISIL, desired to become so-called martyrs, and supported ISIL’s terrorist activities. Prosecutions such as this are critically important to our national security.”

“The defendant, like his co-conspirator, pledged his allegiance to a terrorist organization instead of the United States, as he attempted to recruit and radicalize others to support the group, which calls for the murder of Americans,” said Assistant Director in Charge Fike. “The investigative efforts by Joint Terrorism Task Force partners are commendable and the significant sentence the defendant received illustrates the gravity of this crime and the threat the defendants posed to the United States.”

The evidence at trial showed Elhuzayel and Badawi used social media to discuss ISIL and terrorist attacks, repeatedly expressed support for ISIL and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the U.S. to join the terrorist organization. In recorded conversations, Elhuzayel and Badawi discussed how “it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield,” and they referred to ISIL as “we.” Badawi maintained a Facebook account on which he made posts that supported ISIL and violence aimed at non-Muslims. Badawi used social media to communicate with ISIL supporters to distribute pro-ISIL propaganda.

According to the trial exhibits, on Oct. 21, 2014, Badawi made a video of Elhuzayel swearing allegiance to the leader of ISIS and pledging to travel to join ISIS to be a fighter for the organization.

Badawi and Elhuzayel were arrested on May 21, 2015, as Elhuzayel attempted to board a plane at Los Angeles International Airport in California to travel to Turkey to join ISIL. Badawi purchased Elhuzayel’s one-way ticket on Turkish Airlines for Elhuzayel to travel to Israel, with a layover in Istanbul, Turkey. In an interview with the FBI, Elhuzayel admitted that he intended to deplane in Turkey and seek contacts to facilitate joining ISIL.

Badawi and Elhuzayel have been held in federal custody without bond since their arrests.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orange County, which includes the Anaheim Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, the City of Orange Police Department, the Irvine Police Department, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. The Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General provided significant assistance in the investigation and at trial.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judith A. Heinz and Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, and Julius J. Nam of the General Crimes Section. Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section provided substantial assistance.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Hardan (S.D.Tex. Oct. 17, 2016) (guilty plea in another ISIS material support case)

October 18, 2016

The press release details:

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, the 24-year-old Houston resident charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, has pleaded guilty.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Division and Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston made the announcement.

Al Hardan, a refugee born in Iraq, pleaded guilty today to one count of attempting to provide material support – specifically himself – to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Al Hardan entered the United States as a refugee on or about Nov. 2, 2009. Prior to entering the country, Al Hardan was in at least two refugee camps in Jordan and Iraq. After being admitted into the U.S. as an Iraqi refugee, he was granted legal permanent residence status on or about Aug. 22, 2011, and had resided in Houston.

In April 2014, federal agents began investigating Al Hardan who had been communicating with a California man whom he understood was associated with Al-Nusrah front. In those communications, the individual had told Al Hardan that he had previously traveled to Syria to fight for Al-Nusrah and discussed plans to return to Syria with Al Hardan to fight for Al-Nusrah.

Beginning in June 2014 and continuing through 2015, Al Hardan also developed a relationship with a Confidential Human Source (CHS). During that time, they discussed traveling overseas to support ISIL in fighting jihad and various ways to assist ISIL. Al Hardan also said he wanted to be trained in building remote transmitter/receiver detonators for improvised explosive devices, wanted to learn to use cell phones as the remote detonators and wanted to build remote detonators for ISIL. Al Hardan indicated he taught himself how to make remote detonators by accessing online training videos and other resources he found online and showed the CHS a circuit board he built to be used as a transmitter for a detonator.

On Nov. 5, 2014, Al Hardan took an oath of loyalty to ISIL, according to the plea agreement. Two days later, Al Hardan and the CHS participated in approximately one hour of tactical weapons training with an AK-47 that Al Hardan indicated he wanted.

During the investigation, Al Hardan had also posted many statements on social media in support of ISIL. One of those included a photo of a Humvee with an ISIL flag. Above the photo, Al Hardan posted, “ISIS yesterday in Iraq, today in Syria and Allah willing, tomorrow in Jerusalem.” He also made numerous statements about his plans to travel to Syria and fight alongside ISIL and become a martyr. In one instance he said “I want to blow myself up. I want to travel with the Mujahidin. I want to travel to be with those who are against America. I am against America.”

Upon his arrest in January 2016, investigators discovered training CDs on how to build remote detonators, electronic circuitry components, tools used to build circuitry, multiple cell phones (that had not been activated), a prayer list for committing Jihad and becoming a martyr and the ISIL flag.

Al Hardan has been and will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, set for Jan. 17, 2017. At that time, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and HSI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Mark McIntyre and Ralph Imperato are prosecuting the case with assistance of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Das (D. Maryland Oct.17, 2016) (ISIS material support indictment)

October 17, 2016

A new one, including allegations that the defendant planned to kill a US servicemember. Indictment attached, press release below:

MARYLAND MAN INDICTED WITH ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIL

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury charged Nelash Mohamed Das, 24, a citizen of Bangladesh residing in Landover Hills, Maryland, with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein for the District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office.

The indictment alleges that from October 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016, Das knowingly attempted to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely ISIL. Further, the indictment alleges that Das knew that ISIL is a designated foreign terrorist organization and engages in terrorist activity.

According to court documents ISIL members and supporters have posted identifying information about U.S. military personnel in hopes that those inspired by ISIL would carry out attacks against them. Das allegedly planned to kill a U.S. military member in support of ISIL.

If convicted, Das faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

U.S. Attorney Rosenstein and Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord commended the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for its work on the investigation and thanked the prosecutors that are handling the matter.

###

16-1207

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE USE THE CONTACTS IN THE MESSAGE OR CALL THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT 202-514-2007

Das Indictment.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Qamar (E.D. Va. Oct. 17, 2016) (guilty plea in DC-area ISIS material support case)

October 17, 2016

See the press release below plus the attached statement of facts associated with the plea:

VIRGINIA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIL

WASHINGTON – Haris Qamar, 26, of Burke, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Division, after the charges were unsealed.

“Mr. Qamar attempted to help ISIL encourage lone wolf attacks in our nation’s capital,” said U.S. Attorney Boente. “Ensuring the safety of our community is the top priority of my office, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to locate, identify and prosecute those who choose to engage in terrorist activities.”

“This case demonstrates the reach terrorist organizations have through social media and the threat that they pose to our national security,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “When Qamar could not travel overseas he attempted to assist ISIL’s propaganda campaign for the purpose of inspiring loan wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C. area. Qamar operated over numerous social media accounts where he proselytized ISIL’s message and praised the terrorist group when they committed gruesome acts. Today’s plea is the result of the hard work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working around the clock to protect this country from those who seek to do us harm.”

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, on May 26, Qamar and the FBI confidential witness (CW) discussed ISIL’s need for photos of possible targets in and around Washington, D.C., for use in a video that ISIL purportedly was making to encourage lone-wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C., area. Qamar offered the CW ideas of where to take these photographs, including the Pentagon and numerous landmarks in Arlington and Washington, D.C., which could be targeted for terrorist attacks.

On June 3, a conversation was audio and video recorded when the CW picked up Qamar in a vehicle and they drove to area landmarks on the list Qamar had developed. Qamar said “bye bye DC, stupid ass kufar, kill’em all.” Qamar and the CW met again on June 10 and drove to a location in Arlington to take additional photos for the ISIL video.

According to the statement of facts, during numerous conversations with the CW, Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence ISIL is known for. Qamar said he loved the bodies, blood and beheadings, and he recalled watching a video of a Kurdish individual being slaughtered, and liked the cracking sound made when the individual’s spinal cord was torn. On several occasions, Qamar said he could slaughter someone and described how he would do it. Qamar also stated he admired lone-wolf attackers because they love Islam so much that they are willing to die as martyrs for Islam. In the same conversation, Qamar and the CW discussed suicide bombings. The CW said he did not believe in suicide bombings, but Qamar responded “I believe in it 100 percent.”

According to the statement of facts, on Sept. 11, 2015, terrorists connected with ISIL posted a “kill list” to the internet containing the names and addresses of U.S. military members. A few days later, Qamar told the CW that the residences of several service members who appeared on the “kill list” were near Qamar’s own home, and that Qamar had observed undercover police cars near those residences. On Sept. 16, 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer that Allah “give strength to the mujahideen to slaughter every single US military officer.”

According to the statement of facts, on Sept. 25, 2015, Qamar told the CW that he tried to join the ISIL in 2014, and he purchased a plane ticket from Newark, New Jersey, to Istanbul, Turkey. However, Qamar did not show up for the flight because his parents prevented him from going by taking away his passport. Qamar said his parents threatened to notify law enforcement and said he fought with his father and called his father a traitor to Islam. On Nov. 18, 2015, the CW asked Qamar whether he would join ISIL if Qamar’s father gave him back his passport, and, in response, Qamar said if that happened, “I’m done, I leave.”

Qamar faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 6, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg of the Eastern District of Virginia is prosecuting the case with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

###

16-1206

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE USE THE CONTACTS IN THE MESSAGE OR CALL THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT 202-514-2007

Qamar SOF.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Allen (D. Kan. Oct. 14, 2016) (bombing conspiracy targeting Somali immigrants in Kansas)

October 14, 2016

DOJ press release below:

WASHINGTON– Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, both 49, and of Liberal, Kansas, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, of Wright, Kansas, appeared in federal court to face a charge of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives), in connection with their plot to detonate bombs at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas where Somali immigrants live and worship.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall of the District of Kansas.

“According to the complaint, these three defendants conspired to conduct a bombing attack against an apartment complex occupied by men, women and children in the Garden City, Kansas community,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Protecting our nation from such attacks, whether they are rooted in domestic or international terrorism, is our highest priority.”

“These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Beall. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”

The complaint alleges that since February the FBI has been investigating the defendants’ activities, including their plans to carry out a violent attack against Muslims in southwestern Kansas. The defendants were key members of a militia group that referred to itself as the Crusaders. A confidential source attended meetings of the group and provided the FBI with information about the defendants’ activities.

The criminal complaint alleges that the men conducted surveillance to identify potential targets, stockpiled firearms, ammunition and explosive components, and planned to issue a manifesto in conjunction with the planned bombing. The attack, the defendants said, would be intended to “wake people up.”

After considering possible targets, the defendants decided to conduct the attack on a Garden City, Kansas apartment complex that houses a mosque and a large number of members of the Somali community. They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a large explosion.

On Oct.12, Stein met with an undercover FBI employee in rural Finney County, Kansas. After examining and test firing automatic weapons, Stein took the source to see the apartment building that the defendants were targeting in Garden City, Kansas. Stein said he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and contribute $200 to $300 for other materials.

Stein also talked with the undercover employee about defendant Allen’s arrest in a domestic violence case in Liberal, Kansas the previous day, Oct. 11. Stein said he was concerned that Allen’s girlfriend would give the Liberal Police Department in Kansas information about the defendants’ plans.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Investigating agencies included the FBI, the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Dodge City Police Department, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, and Kansas Highway Patrol, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi for the District of Kansas and Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney David Cora are prosecuting this case.

For a copy of the complaint please access www.pacer.gov or call (312) 269-6481.

###

16-1201

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE USE THE CONTACTS IN THE MESSAGE OR CALL THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT 202-514-2007.